Japan, China, South Korea plan maritime talks | Global News

Japan, China, South Korea plan maritime talks

/ 04:20 AM August 18, 2016

TOKYO—Japan, China and South Korea are in talks to hold a meeting of their foreign ministers next week, despite rows between Tokyo and Beijing over the latter’s maritime expansion in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, a Japanese daily said on Wednesday.

Last month, a senior Japanese foreign ministry official said Japan was considering holding the meeting in late August, but the flare-up in Sino-Japanese tension had fueled concern it was difficult to have such a meeting now.

The Tokyo Shimbun daily said the three countries were making arrangements for the meeting to be held on Aug. 23 and 24 in Tokyo to lay the groundwork for a three-way summit that Tokyo is set to host this year.


Framework for talks


Citing unnamed diplomatic sources, the Beijing-datelined story said it was possible that Japan’s Coast Guard rescue of Chinese fishermen last week had warmed China to the idea of sending Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Japan for the meeting.

The three-way foreign ministers’ and summit meetings are an important framework on discussions of pressing regional issues, such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.


Japanese and South Korean foreign ministry officials said nothing had been fixed yet.

The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tension between Japan and China mounted this month after a growing number of Chinese Coast Guard and other government ships sailed near disputed islets in the East China Sea.


The group of tiny, uninhabited islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, is controlled by Japan but claimed also by China.

Int’l court ruling

Bilateral ties were also strained over the South China Sea dispute, with Japan urging China to adhere to a ruling by an international court that invalidated Beijing’s territorial claims there, while China warned Japan not to interfere.

On Wednesday, Japan lodged a fresh diplomatic protest with China, accusing the country of again sending its Coast Guard ships into waters surrounding contested islands in the East China Sea.

Tokyo has lodged at least 32 protests through diplomatic channels since Aug. 5 over what it says have been 29 intrusions.

Those sparked Kenji Kanasugi, foreign ministry chief of Asia-Pacific affairs, to phone Guo Yan, minister at the Chinese Embassy in Japan, the Japanese ministry said in a statement.


“Despite Japan’s repeated strong protests, the Chinese side has continued to take unilateral actions that raise tensions on the ground, and that is absolutely unacceptable,” Kanasugi told Guo, according to the foreign ministry statement.

Kanasugi also called the intrusions a “violation of Japan’s sovereignty” and were “unacceptable.”

The vessels left after being warned off by the Japan Coast Guard, officials said.

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Ships of the two countries regularly play cat and mouse in the waters but Japan says that Chinese activity has suddenly picked up this month, with local media speculating it is related to a secretive annual summer gathering of top Chinese leaders at a seaside resort east of Beijing.

TAGS: China, East China Sea, Japan, South China Sea, South Korea

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